DANGER!!

WOW!

I am constantly AMAZED at the improper concepts I hear from trumpet players regarding 3 things:

  • Warm-up
  • Range Building
  • Strength Building

“All trumpet players have a tendency to play with two lips rather than an embouchure if they can get away with it.”  ("Special Studies for Trumpet" by John Daniels.)

You can't get away with it and survive.

A lot of players work really HARD on getting things right by doing things WRONG and then don't understand why they get tired after 10 minutes, can't play above a high C, have a splatty, fuzzy, airy, blatty, "unpleasant" tone, can't tongue, and whose lips won't respond without FORCING and shoving and pain.

This page is for YOU, the hard-working trumpet player who never gets any better, just louder.

Warm-up
 
Always start with a WARM-UP. Scientific studies show that muscles work most efficiently at 102 degrees. Athletes warm-up before work-outs or games so they won’t injure their muscles. The same holds true for musicians; you use about 200 muscles for every note you play.
 
ATTENTION: just hacking-out a few notes, scales, high notes or “hot licks” is NOT “warming-up. ”
 
Although we DO raise the temperature of our muscles to play, “warming-up” is about MUCH more than that. It’s about preparing our physical machine (our body) to be the best musical instrument possible for the ENTIRE day. Your warm-up sets the foundation for your playing for the ENTIRE DAY!
 
Warm-up “randomly” and your playing may be unstable for the ENTIRE DAY.
Warm-up correctly, and you’ll feel secure and confident for the ENTIRE DAY (usually).
 
Wind players warm-up these things in order:
  1. Your BRAIN – by focusing your attention and increasing oxygen from deep     breathing
  2. Your AIR – focus on deep, “fat,” relaxed breathing
  3. Your EARS – listen to your sound, let them guide your best sound
  4. Your EMBOUCHURE – treat it with care, warm it up slowly, concentrating on ease and comfort of response of lips and/or reed.
  5. Your TONGUE – get it moving relaxed and “soft”
  6. Your FINGERS – allow them to move freel
Your PRIVATE LESSON TEACHER will have all the materials necessary for you to warm-up. If you are not taking private lessons, you should be. But if not, here's a warm-up that can only help you get the supple and easy response that makes playing fun:
  1. Breathe – deep, full and relaxed, with proper posture. PROPER POSTURE is not tense. The weight of your body is supported by your skeleton. Equal weight on both feet, both knees, hips, shoulders and HEAD. Making sure your head is balanced on top of your spine is overlooked by 98% of players, and it helps so much in releasing unnecessary tension.
  2. Blow – air must move in a constant, steady stream. Let your lips flap like a horse, or play double pedals softly on your horn, but let your air and lips move fully but slowly.
  3. Free Buzz – start with ANY easy-to-buzz note. When you can make the easy note buzz steadily for 10 seconds, start that note, then make your air go a little faster and go a half step higher. CAUTION: when you go higher, let your lips move toward the CENTER, inward not outward, and move your jaw forward and up slightly in response to the increased airspeed. AIRSPEED controls the motion. Expand in both directions.
  4. SING the notes your buzzing in your lowest register. Then buzz them again. Make the buzzing sound musical and feel as easy as humming.
  5. Repeat 3 and 4 with your mouthpiece. work your way to mini-scales, then full scales and arpeggios, then add,maybe, the Stamp Warm-ups.
  6. TRICKY: take your second valve slide out (or third, or first. But watch for blow-back if you take out first! ). Press down second valve and play the funny sound that will occur! It should happen very easily. When you can center this note at it's most resonant point — careful, now – increase your airspeed while playing, thus making the pitch go higher (DO NOT ADD EXTRA PRESSURE FROM YOUR MOUTHPIECE!). Your lips may curl-in slightly, corners may grip the mouthpiece a little more and your lower may go forward, but any facial movement is in RESPONSE TO THE SPEED OF THE AIR, not to make the note higher. At some point the note will pop up to the next overtone. Hold it and then let it drop back to the starting "note." Repeat several times. Ultimately, this will go up 4 notes, 5 or 6 repetitions, but don't rush. The process is more important than the result.
  7. FINALLY – put your horn together and let's do some tone bends! Start on 2nd line g, bend the note note down a half or whole step, keeping the air moving and a good sound, and back up to G. Repeat the process going down chromatically. And later we'll go up, too. And after that we'll add more.
Now, play Clarke 1 or 2, or whatever. You should be warmed-up thoroughly and ready to play. And for all the word above, it's only been 10-15 minutes.
 
“WHAT NEXT?”
 
After your warm-up, and not until you have thoroughly and conscientiously warmed-up, play and record:
  1. Technical Studies for accuracy first, THEN speed.
  2. Slow melodic studies for tone, musicality and vibrato (if applicable).
  3. Etudes
  4. Solos
  5. Ensemble Pieces
  6. Review: Play through music you have previously learned
  7. Play something you really enjoy! Music that is FUN!
Review the recording you just made of all that you just played. Write, in pencil, on your music, items you want to improve during tomorrow’s practice session.  You aren’t going to be “perfect” and up to speed on everything every day.
 
In the 7 categories your time on each may vary. If you have test tomorrow on scales, you might spend most of your time on those. If solo contest is soon, that may be your main target. But get in at least some of each category each day.
 
On each part of your playing, get 1% better than you were they day before. Compound Interest!
 
Warm-down: play some soft low notes just to get your face relaxed so that blood can flow freely to the muscles you have just worked. This is esp. true for brass players. It doesn’t take much, 5 minutes is usually more than enough, but you may like warming down exercises. Do them as long as you want. They won’t hurt you.
 
 
RANGE:
Already posted at
 
 
STRENGTH:
 
Sorry, I should've posted this before Range. Sure, I still could, but I won't. I feel cranky….waa.
 
This one scares me almost as much as "range." There's no secret to building strength. And actually, you should build this before range, and in fact, you really have to do both.
 
Just a few ideas about building strength.
  1. Use the Range Exercises. Bonus!
  2. DON'T BUILD ANYTHING ON A TIRED EMBOUCHURE! You will destroy your chops. I know. I did it.
  3. REST AS MUCH AS YOU PLAY.
  4. Always play WITH YOUR VERY BEST SOUND! DO NOT PUSH PAST YOUR BEST TONE. Again, this will destroy you!
  5. Select some simple slow songs. Hymns work well. Anything that's slow and keeps notes mostly in step-wise motion, although arpeggios and bigger intervals are ok if you can do them without forcing or straining.
  6. SING THE PIECE IN YOUR LOWEST VOICE ON THE CONCERT PITCH NOTES.
  7. Play it in a comfortable register, forte+,  keep your air moving.  The pressure on your lips should be VERY light. Repeat it immediately. Do you notice any fatigue? If so, rest 5 minutes and try it again.
  8. If you can play it 3 times in a row with no fatigue, then transpose it up a half step. If you can do that three times, go up another half step.
  9. Continue this process. BUT DON'T PLAY PAST THE POINT OF FATIGUE. If you "feel the burn" in your face, it's time to rest! If your muscles are drained, you'll compensate with pressure, which will lead to bruising and pain.
  10. Do this every day for 10-15 minutes, and longer when it feels "good." You WILL get stronger, louder and higher, but over a long period of time. facial muscles are SMALL!! You can't force them to grow faster than they can grow.

BEST ADVICE: PRACTICE OFTEN, BUT IN SMALL TIME PERIODS.

PRACTICE FEELING STRONG AND COMFORTABLE.  If you practice tired and weak, you will perform tired and weak.

more later….

 

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